Soles in Their Coffins and Fish Stinks

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“Anyone who has ever been to Billingsgate fish market in the early hours knows that smells travel faster than light.  For, long before the night receives the first flush of dawn, the pungent aroma of shellfish and the overpowering stench of eel filling the fishermen’s carts have already mingled with the cold night air.”  From the The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Looking to pick up a little extra money, Tom Blunt hikes out to the smelly fish market to unload some fish and attempt to get over his love for a woman he can never have because he doesn’t have enough money.  He chose the fish market work instead of pawning her parasol, which was quite chivalric of him.

Soles in Their Coffins

4 small fillets of sole

1 cup white wine

1 small onion finely chopped

4 tbsp butter

1/3 cup flour

4 large potatoes, baked in the skin

1 cup sliced mushrooms

4 ounces peeled shrimp

Preheat the oven to 450.   Place the onions and wine in a baking dish.  Roll the fish skin sides in and layer them on top of the onions.  Bake for about 8-10 minutes until the fish is flaky (be careful not to over cook).  While the fish is baking, saute the mushrooms in butter and remove to a bowl, then saute the shrimp until they just turn pink.  (this is my additional step, the recipe said to saute the shrimp and mushrooms together which will over cook your shrimp and under cook  your mushrooms – I should have trusted my instinct and avoided rubbery shrimp).  Remove the shrimp from the butter and add to the mushrooms.  When the fish is done, strain out the wine.  Melt the remaining butter, add the flour and “cook” it for a minute, whisking briskly.  Slowly add the reserved wine back into the pan, still whisking.  When the sauce thickens, return the mushrooms and the shrimp to the pan.  

Cut a small top off the potatoes and scoop out the flesh.  Put a roll of sole in each potato skin and top with the sauce.  Replace the top of the potato – this is the “coffin.”  Cover with any remaining sauce and return to the baking dish.  Bake for 10 more minutes to heat through.  

One recipe called to add cream to the sauce which would have been a good idea since the wine flavor was a little strong.  Also, the mishap with the mushrooms and shrimps bears correcting.  Equally, I would have probably pan seared the onions as well.  Also, my potatoes were too small to really hold the sole, which meant that the sauce was all poured over the top making the dish more like a casserole than a coffin.  Overall, I would pretty much have to change everything I did in order to make this better.  Still, all flubs considered, it was pretty delicious.

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Filed under British Cooking, Cooking and Reading, Fish, Literature, Recipes

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